Olive oil lime cookies

biscuits huile d'olive citron - olive oil lime cookies (1 of 1)

When you just got back from a fairly impromptu trip abroad, and it’s quite late already, and you still need to get everything in order for tomorrow morning because, well, you have to get back to work after all and act like your head is right where it should be, you have several options. Mine involves food, necessarily.

Only instead of grabbing whatever’s available in my fridge only to postpone the inevitable moment where I will have to do my laundry, I’ll tell you a little bit about olive oil cookies. I found out about them in a cookie cookbook, and I thought it was a refreshing departure from the million cookie recipes you’ve browsed through in the past. Isn’t it? Then it got tricky. I realized WHY butter is paramount in the process of making cookies. For one thing, a cookie dough made with olive oil is pre-tty sticky. And that’s a euphemism. After a total mess of a first batch, I resolved to get out there again and confront my fear of sticky dough all over your kitchen fingers. I am happy to say that I did conquer.

The other odd thing is that olive oil cookies don’t actually taste like olive oil — the main difference lies in the texture. That’s when lime comes in handy, its tang balancing perfectly the sandy softness brought by the olive oil. I think it was an overall success, but I’ll let you be the judge. Meanwhile, I’m going to go unpack.

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Olive oil lime cookies

Prep time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Yields 15 cookies

Ingredients:

- 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- zest of 1 lime
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 pinch of salt

Directions:

1. Beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until pale. Beat in the olive oil.

2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt and zest. Stir in the egg mixture with a spatula, until smooth. Shape into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 340°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Generously flour a work surface and your rolling pin, and roll out the dough into 1/5″ thick sheet. Cut into 2″ diameter cookies (with an upside down glass or with a cookie cutter), and place on prepared baking sheet.

4. Bake for 10 to 20 minutes, checking frequently, until the edges just start to get golden (do not overbake!) Let cool completely before serving.

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biscuits huile d'olive citron - olive oil lime cookies (1 of 1)-2My tips:

- Do not hesitate to add a bit of flour to the dough if it’s still too sticky after it’s been chilled; it will make it easier to work with. I did add quite a bit of it myself.

SourceBiscuits de tasse, by Lucia Pantaleoni.

Tomato and bread gratin

gratin de pain à la tomate - tomato and bread gratin  (1 of 1)

Bread. Bread is just awesome when it’s not used for toast. Let me paint you a word picture: you’ve had people over for dinner the previous night, and you made a giant cheese fondue (oh.my.god by the way, but that’s another story), everything was perfect except that you have tons of crusty bread leftovers, and for some reason you don’t really feel like French toast. Then you remember that almost exactly one year ago, you had a dinner party with your girlfriends where comfort food was the main theme, and you’d made this delicious and quick bread gratin.

gratin de pain à la tomate - tomato and bread gratin  (1 of 1)-2

Bingo. After the first bite, I remembered why this dish was so awesome: it really does taste like something more than bread and tomato (and onion, and cheese) put together. It tastes like an authentically Italian dish, and it warms up your soul. I love bread, when it’s not being used as bread.

Side note: you can make this dish crunchy + melty, or just melty. Love love love.

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Tomato and bread gratin

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 1/2 lb bread (fresh or old)
- 2 (15 oz) cans whole peeled tomatoes, in juices
- 5 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bay leaf

Directions:

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute, until fragrant. Add peeled tomatoes in their juices, salt, pepper, sugar, bay leaf, gently squeeze the tomatoes with a wooden spoon, and simmer for 10 minutes, until slightly thickened but still juicy.

2. In the meantime, cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Preheat oven to 350°F.

3. Pour half the sauce at the bottom of a baking dish (9 x 9″ for me), add half the bread and press it down into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, add 1 tbsp olive oil and half the parmesan. Cover with the rest of the sauce, press in the rest of the bread, salt and pepper and 1 tbsp olive oil, and finish with sliced mozzarella and freshly cracked pepper.

4. Bake for 25 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and golden. Serve with a salad.

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gratin de pain à la tomate - tomato and bread gratin  (1 of 1)-3My tips:

- If you’d rather have a soft than a crunchy gratin, use only 1/3 of the sauce for each layer, and top the second layer of bread with one last layer of tomato sauce, before adding the mozzarella.
- You can sprinkle with chopped basil right before serving.

Source: The Guardian.

Avocado milk pound cake

gâteau avocat lait concentré - avocado milk pound cake (1 of 1)

So I’m back, once again. I keep coming and going, it’s been a love-hate relationship with this blog for the past couple months. I’m not sure why, but I’m sure it says something about me.

I’ve made avocado milk pound cake. It was, of course, intended for St Patrick’s day. And it served this purpose, in a way. Only my St Patrick’s day was two days after everyone else’s. In the event yours is even later than mine, go nuts on this little thing, it’s fun, and it’s sorta green. Otherwise, there’s always next year.

gâteau avocat lait concentré - avocado milk pound cake (1 of 1)-2

I made this cake in an attempt to reconnect with cooking, and I can safely say it was a success. First because of how quick this loaf gets together, then because of how faithful it is to the original recipe –except, maybe, for the shade of green. I would have liked a slightly greener cake (?), but hey, I refrained from adding food color, so I could give you a 100% natural avocado cake.
I’ve stated in the past my love for all things avocado. Here’s another reason to embrace the trend. Plus a green dessert makes it feel slightly healthier, I think.

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Avocado milk pound cake

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients:

- 5 oz avocado flesh (about 2 small avocados)
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup butter
- 2/3 cup unsweetened condensed milk
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 2 large eggs

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 340°F. Butter a 6×9″ loaf pan. Mash the avocado flesh with a fork, mix with lime juice, set aside.

2. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one, until incorporated. Beat in condensed milk, until incorporated.

3. In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat half the flour mixture into the egg mixture, until smooth. Beat in the second half, until smooth. Finally, stir in the avocado, until the color is even.

4. Pour into prepared pan, and bake for 35 minutes. Let cool before removing from pan and serving.

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gâteau avocat lait concentré - avocado milk pound cake (1 of 1)-3My tips:

- Substitute lemon for the lime.
- If you’re an avocado fan, you can serve slices of this cake buttered with mashed avocado.

Source: Dinner for two… or more.

Praline truffles

truffes pralin - praline truffles

Not familiar with praline? It’s just a fancy word for crushed hazelnuts and almonds with sugar. So, really, nothing to rave about IN THEORY. But then in practice, it’s a whole different thing. I don’t know what makes this particular combination so appealing, but it does. Kind of like Nutella being so much more than the sum of its ingredients. Come to think of it, what praline and Nutella have in common is hazelnut. Maybe *that’s* the key…

Anyways, I don’t know if you remember when I was telling you about how I always got around to posting holiday recipes just a bit too late? This is one of those times. So… yeah. Just a couple months late on the whole truffle madness. But you can always bookmark them for next Christmas. Or, we can just decide, as a team, that there is something to celebrate this week. Like the end of February, the shortest month of the year. That’s gotta be something, right?

truffes pralin - praline truffles

Or a particularly spectacular snowstorm hitting your area?

I’ve got one: I’m on vacation! Like, at the beach, almost. So there you have it. I’ve got my reason to celebrate. What’s yours?

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Praline truffles

Prep time: 45 minutes + 2 h chilling
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Yields 50 truffles

Ingredients:

- 1 lb good quality dark chocolate (75% cocoa for me)
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3.5 oz praline (about 3/4 cup)

Directions:

1.  Melt the chocolate and heavy cream in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla extract, then refrigerate for 2 hours.

2. Spread the praline on a plate. Roll the dough into cherry-size balls between your palms, then roll into the praline, pressing gently with your fingertips so the praline is incrusted into the truffles. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

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truffes pralin - praline trufflesMy tips:

- You can adjust the size of the truffles, but I find the cherry size to be just what the doctor ordered.
- Halve the measurements for a reasonable amount of truffles.
- Can’t find praline at your grocery store? I’m sure you can find tons of easy recipes online, since the ingredient list is so simple.

Source: clementine cuisine original.

Red pepper walnut dip

tartinade de poivrons aux noix - red pepper walnut dip  (1 of 1)-2

Do you have those blogs that you’ve been following for what seems like forever? I’m sure you do. And do you, like me, feel like you know their author almost to the point where they’re your friends or something, since they’re such a big part of your daily routine (gee, I sound like a no-life creep)? You do? Pheww. I was beginning to feel a tad lonely here. Elly is one of those bloggers for me. Her blog is one of the first I started following, and there’s something so accessible about her recipes that I just love.

Now, I’m aware that telling you about my time-consuming habit of reading food blogs kind of goes against my tirade earlier in the week about how I want to stick to using cookbooks for inspiration. So now is as good a time as any to admit that this particular dip recipe has been in my drafts since September. I have no idea why it was delayed for so long, but what matters is that it’s here now. And that you can find out about Elly.

Subsequently, you will make this insanely easy and quick dip, and you will love Elly and me and everyone who gets to taste it and likes you a little bit more after doing so.

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Red pepper walnut dip

Prep time: 35 minutes
No cooking 
Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 1 1/4 cup roasted red pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/2 medium onion
- 3/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
- 1/2 tbsp honey
- 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

1. Soak the walnuts in water for 30 minutes. Drain.

2. Place all the ingredients in the food processor and mix until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.  Refrigerate or serve immediately with pita bread.

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tartinade de poivrons aux noix - red pepper walnut dip  (1 of 1)My tips:

- I used jarred grilled peppers because I was in a pinch (bad bad me) but it was so good I can’t really say that I regretted it.
- Substitute pomegranate molasses for the honey + balsamic. That’s the original recipe.
- This dip is pretty garlic-y. If you’re not so much into it just use less.

Source: adapted from Elly Says Opa.

Stuffed eggplant with beef and pine nuts

aubergines farcies boeuf pignons - stuffed eggplant with beef and pinenuts (1 of 1)

One of the resolutions I took during my month off from blogging was to use my cookbooks more in this little enterprise that I call clementine cuisine. I don’t know about you, but I find myself constantly drawn to that magical tool we call internet. Whether I’m looking for an answer to “what to do with the lemon and egg leftovers in my fridge?” or “who was Suleiman the Magnificient again?” Whatever you seek, it’s all right here, at your fingertips, like literally.

Since January is also the month of my birthday, I got quite a few wonderful cookbooks, as one would expect. So I made a conscious decision to not run to internet/the blogosphere whenever I had a cooking urge -which happens pretty much every other day- but rather to turn to my books. So I opened my books. I turned the pages. I remembered the beauty of browsing actual paper. One of the great books I got was, of course, Jerusalem. I mentioned it last week already, but this book is out of this world. Just so compelling. As this recipe suggests; I know, most people think stuffing eggplant is really no big deal, but there’s stuffed eggplants, and then there’s Ottolenghi stuffed eggplants. A whole other level of depth of flavor meeting simplicity. Another beautiful brainchild of Yotam and Sami. Thank you guys, again.

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Stuffed eggplant with beef and pine nuts

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 1h 30
Serves 4

Ingredients:

- 2 medium eggplants
- 10.5 oz good quality lean ground beef
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 2 tsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp tamarind paste
- 3 tsp sugar
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1/2 cup water
- salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 420°F. Halve the eggplants lenghtwise and place them open face in a baking pan that fits them snuggly. Brush each half with 1 tbsp olive oil, season with 1 tsp salt and some black pepper, then bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside in the dish.

2. In the meantime, prepare the stuffing: heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix together the cumin, cinnamon and paprika, add half of it to the skillet along with the onion, and cook for 8 minutes, stirring regularly, until tender and fragrant. Add the meat, pine nuts, parsley, tomato puree, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt and some black pepper. Cook, stirring, for another 8 minutes on medium heat until the meat is cooked.

3. Add the water to the remaining spice mix in the bowl, along with the lemon juice, tamarind, 2 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp salt. Stir well. Pour into the bottom of the eggplant baking dish.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F (or reduce temperature if on already.) Cover the eggplants with the stuffing, then cover with foil and bake for 1 h 30 minutes, basting the top of the eggplants three times with the sauce while cooking. If it gets too dry, add a bit of water. Serve warm (not hot) with white rice.

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aubergines farcies boeuf pignons - stuffed eggplant with beef and pinenuts (1 of 1)-2My tips:

- Substitute lamb for beef, as the original recipe suggests (I just don’t really like lamb.)

Source: Jerusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.

Pink shortbread hearts

coeurs sablés roses - pink shortbread hearts (1 of 1)-2

I guess this here photo gives away, if the title hadn’t, where I was going with these. I even wrapped them in a cute little bag tied with cute pink yarn, in case the heart + the pink weren’t cheesy enough. To be fair though, I kept the color on the pale side, when I could have opted for flashy pink. I didn’t want to overdo it. Sometimes subtlety is all you  need to make the difference.

coeurs sablés roses - pink shortbread hearts (1 of 1)-3

In case you haven’t figured me out by now, valentine’s day is really not my thing. Never been my thing, probably never will be. But hey, I want to celebrate today because it’s one of those rare occasions when I actually manage to post a recipe before the day of the holiday. Yay to me. And, too, yay to pink shortbread. These are of the crumbly-yet-melt-in-your-mouth type, so they should make everyone happy. Even your friend, even your sister, even your neighbor who’s always got your back but who unfortunately doesn’t get his own holiday. That’s what valentine’s day is about: showing some love all around.

What? It’s not? It’s only about your life partner? Too bad. I feel this red and pink overdose in my retina is a waste then. Anyways, I’ll keep spreading the love with these cute little hearts, and if my co-workers and neighbors think I’m crazy, then so be it. I made heart-shaped pink cookies man, cut me some slack.

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Pink shortbread hearts

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Yields about 2 dozen small cookies

Ingredients: 

- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1 cup sugar
- 3 drops red coloring

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment.

2. Beat the butter, sugar, salt, almond extract and food coloring in your stand mixer on low speed for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Beat in the flour, until crumbly. Form a ball, place it on a lightly floured surface, and roll it out to a 1/5-inch thickness. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to shape cookies.

3. Place on prepared baking sheet 1/2 inch apart, and bake for 5 minutes, before the edges turn brown. Let cool completely before storing or serving.

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coeurs sablés roses - pink shortbread hearts (1 of 1)My tips:

- Shape round cookies if you don’t have heart-shaped cookie cutters.
- You can add a few drops of coloring for a more intense color (I sound like a hairdresser.)

Source: Bake at 350.

Clementine and almond syrup cake

gâteau clémentines amandes - clementine almond syrup cake (1 of 1)-2

I’m not really good with milestones, nor any supposedly relevant holiday. I’m still the one blogger who programs pumpkin recipes in December, or posts Christmas cookies in March (you’ll see what I’m talking about soon.) So the upcoming two-year anniversary of this blog is something that could have easily slipped my mind, if I hadn’t been mentally reminding myself for several months that I shouldn’t miss this one. Not that it really matters, but I just wanted to mark the occasion. I’d had this ongoing vision of a clementine cake as an anniversary treat for clementine cuisine. I’m so so subtle.

It’s just that I like the idea of using clementines in baking, and I thought it was more than fitting in the present context, only I’d never tried it before. And then came the book. the Jerusalem book. One of the many gems that have come out of Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s brains combined. This book is such a beauty. My sister gave it to me on my birthday, and I instantly opened it on the page of this recipe. I took it as a sign (it doesn’t take much to convince me that anything is a sign.)

So there you go, take it as a two-year anniversary treat (I’m sure there’s a two-year anniversary of something coming up in your life — or if there isn’t, it also works as a three-, four-, eight-, ten-year anniversary, I think) or make it for your valentine, he/she will love it, even if it’s not bright pink. Hey, there’s clementine, it’s made with love.

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Clementine and almond syrup cake

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Serves 6

Ingredients:

- 14 tbsp butter
- 2 1/3 cups sugar
- 4 clementines (zests and juice)
- 1 lemon (zest and juice)
- 2 1/4 cups ground almonds
- 5 eggs
- 120 g de farine
- 1 generous pinch of yum
- 1 orange (zest), to decorate

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and line with a disc of parchment a 9-inch round springform pan.

2. In the bowl of your electric mixer with the beater attachement, beat the butter, lemon and clementine zest, and 2 cups sugar on low speed, until combined (about 5 minutes.) Beat in half the ground almonds, until incorporated. Beat in the eggs one by one, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.

3. Beat in the rest of the ground almonds, the flour and salt, until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, level with a spatula, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out slightly moist.

4. A few minutes before the cake is cooked, place the lemon and clementine juices (no more than 1/2 cup) and the remaining 1/3 cup sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil, before removing from the heat. As soon as the cake is out of the oven, brush the syrup on top of it (I only used 2/3 of the syrup), making sure it seeps through. Let cool completely before removing from pan, garnish with orange zest, and serve. .

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gâteau clémentines amandes - clementine almond syrup cake (1 of 1)My tips: 

- If you have extra clementine and lemon juice, don’t toss it, drink it!
- Keep this cake for up to 3 days in an airtight container.

Source: Jérusalem, by Ottolenghi and Tamimi.